Bistrots and brasseries may be all over London nowadays, but there was once a time when they weren’t common at all. Galvin Bistrot de Luxe on frantic Baker Street has been fulfilling that brief in its secluded dining room for over ten years – and, to an excellent standard. With one of the Galvin brothers in the driving seat, this bistrot serves French classics, some with twists, that really please.
Duck liver parfait, may sound like a clichéd was to start a French meal, but Galvin’s offering is far from standard. First of all, the parfait is great; deep and irony. But it’s what the parfait comes with that makes the starter even better. Crunchy segments of melba peach and tart raspberries are there to use instead of bread, creating a great combination of acidity and richness. Fresh almonds add more texture and the citrus flavour of verbena leaves completes an inventive take on a classic.
Next is a dish well known to de Luxe diners; the Dorset crab lasagne. Elegant disks of crab mousse are textured with filaments of flesh, and layered with delicate leaves of pasta. A beautiful beurre Nantais is lavishly poured over the tower. Butter, white wine and a dash of vinegar come together wonderfully with finely chopped chives, to compliment the pronounced flavour of the shellfish. I could have eaten five of these beauties.
For mains, tender chicken breast (most likely cooked sous-vide and then browned-up in the pan) sits in a heavenly mix of sweetcorn purée and an intense veal stock, alongside miniature girolle mushrooms and whole pieces of sweetcorn. True bistronomie; Galvin takes brasserie concepts, and adds his own style and flavours to elevate a humble dish to something gastronomic. The melting meat, the velvety purée, the salted mushrooms – they make up a fantastic ensemble.
While it may not be on the list of the “trendiest” place to eat, Gavin Bistort de Luxe is pure heaven, and should be visited by everyone. The cooking and concept is so good that it puts plenty of *1 star restaurants to shame. While bistrots and brasseries may be a new trend in London dining scene, this old hand will no doubt still be serving-up great food long after others have gone out of fashion and closed up.